Public Bike Share Coming to New York?

It’s no secret that we here at Things Are Good like bikes and bike sharing (we may have even posted about it once or twice…), and now some more good news concerning bike sharing has come in. New York City is looking to set up North America’s largest bike sharing programme complete with 10 000 bikes! New York’s bike share will be funded through corporate sponsorship and will create around 200 jobs in the city. The bikes, which are the same as Bixi’s bicycles in Toronto and Montreal, will be manufactured in Canada by Cycles Devinci.

The rest of the article can be found at NPR.org.

Make Your Daily Glass of Wine a Little Easier on the Planet

The forward thinking company GreenBottle has been producing and selling a paper-based milk bottle for the past few years, but has recently toyed with making a paper wine bottle! We all know wine is delicious, but it often comes from far away places (South Africa, Australia, South America, Europe) and is shipped in very heavy glass bottles. And even though these bottles can be reused and recycled, many still end up in landfill. GreenBottle has a great solution that is part recyclable, and part compostable:

The revolutionary packaging is made of paper with a thin plastic lining. The paper outer shell is compostable and biodegradable. It will break down naturally when disposed of on a compost heap and can be recycled up to seven times. On the compost heap, it will only take a few weeks to decompose.

The inner liner is made of recycled plastic. It can be recycled along with other plastics in the weekly recycling collection. It takes up less than 0.5% of the space of a plastic bottle if dumped in a landfill.

Although the GreenBottle wine bottle isn’t quite at production stage, you can still make more sustainable choices at the beer or liquor store: choose locally produced craft beers and wine made from locally grown grapes. There are even some good wines sold in Tetra Packs (like this one) that have many of the same benefits of the GreenBottle wine bottle – don’t let the conventions of glass bottles deter you from trying something new!

Read the rest of the article on TreeHugger.

Wind Power Is Getting Even Better…

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance has shown that wind power will keep coming down in price until it becomes cheaper than coal, gas, nuclear, and cheap natural gas power generation. Wind power is already competitive (or even better than traditional energy sources) in the long run when emissions, natural resource mining, and health side effects are taken into consideration but this study suggests that the new price parity expected in 2016 will be independent of externalities.

After analyzing the cost curve for wind projects since the mid-1980s, BNEF researchers showed that the cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen 14 percent for every doubling of installation capacity. These cost reductions are due to a number of factors: more sophisticated manufacturing, better materials, larger turbines, and more experience with plant operations and maintenance. Those improvements, combined with an oversupply of turbines on the global market, will bring the average cost of wind electricity down another 12 percent by 2016.

Read a summary of the Bloomberg report at Grist.org.

Like Bixi….but Waaaaaay Bigger

At a time when owning a car in China has become the ultimate symbol of success, it’s very encouraging to see systems like Hangzhou’s bike share working so well.

The city of Hangzhou, with its population of roughly seven million, has 50 000 bikes in their bike share program!

Hangzhou’s 2,050 bike-share stations are spaced less than a thousand feet from each other in the city center, and on an average day riders make 240,000 trips using the system. Its popularity and success have set a new standard for bike-sharing in Asia. And the city is far from finished. The Hangzhou Bicycle Company plans to expand the bike-share system to 175,000 bikes by 2020!

Check out this video at streetfilms.org.

Driving Down Car Use in Great Britain

A recent article in The Independent highlights how car use in England is on the decline. A combination of factors (including high gas prices, poor congestion, and general disdain for internal combustion engines) has lead to fewer people getting their licenses, and fewer people using their cars.

[Steve] Goodwin [professor of transport policy at the University of the West of England] has been building his argument for peak car in a series of articles in Local Transport Today. His evidence includes that fewer young people are learning to drive. Between 1992 and 2007, the number of 17- to 20-year-olds who held licences fell from 48 per cent to 38 per cent, and for 21- to 29-year-olds, the number fell from 75 per cent to 66 per cent. Also, there has been a decline in private transport’s share of trips from 50 per cent in 1993 to 41 per cent in 2008. And, according to Lynn Sloman, director of Transport for Quality of Life, between 2004 and 2008, car trips per person went down by 9 per cent and car distance per person by 5 per cent.

Of course, this doesn’t amount to incontrovertible evidence of the beginning of the end for cars – it could be a momentary blip, an aberration – but it would be foolish not to have this debate now, given the paucity of Government funds, and given the long planning horizon of most public works.

Have a look at the rest of the article here.

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